President Obama gave a press conference recently, and -- since it is still the political Silly Season -- got a lot of media attention. For what he was wearing. No, seriously. Washington was all a-twitter (or even a-Twitter) because Obama wore a suit that was not dark blue or black. While some may smack their heads over the idiocy of what passes as the Washington press corps, the right thing to do is to celebrate how males have finally reached sartorial equality with women, when viewed by political "journalists." This is not a backhanded compliment, I hasten to point out, it is meant as a backhanded insult. Because it is always insulting to a politician to focus on what she (or, now, he) is wearing, instead of reporting on the substance of her words and actions. This has been going on for women in politics for exactly as long as women have been in American politics, right up to Hillary Clinton's pantsuits and Sarah Palin's shopping spree. All women know this -- they will be judged on what they wear, sometimes more than what they say or do. Especially female politicians. President Obama is just getting a tiny taste of what women have had to put up with in the political arena since Day One. So I choose to celebrate this new equality (of the idiocy of the political press), and the closing of this particular part of the gender gap.
Archive of Articles for August, 2014
It was reported today that the Islamic terrorist group which just murdered an American journalist -- by brutally cutting his head off while cameras were rolling -- has also waterboarded their American prisoners. Unfortunately, while every civilized person is understandably shocked and outraged over the murder, the moral high road is unavailable to America on the question of waterboarding prisoners. This is precisely the scenario many have been warning about for years: If America tortures prisoners, what will we say when others torture American prisoners?
"It's quiet out there... too quiet."
The national Democratic Party is reluctant to support divisive issues, at times. They drag their feet until pressured by a significant faction within their own base to stop waffling and take a clear progressive stand. This is pretty much common knowledge, and the same can actually be said to a differing extent for the Republican Party (although you'd have to replace the word "progressive" with "conservative" to make it work). What usually pressures the national party enough to act is when large party donors begin to threaten to turn off the spigot, which puts the flow of money to the national party at significant risk. Gay marriage advocates (for example) had gotten a lot of lip service and lukewarm support from Democrats, right up until they started drawing a line in the sand: no marriage equality support, no more donations. Which led to not only President Obama but the entire Democratic Party quickly "evolving" on the issue. This may now be starting to happen on the subject of marijuana.
This past weekend, in the middle of the night, the San Francisco Bay Area felt the biggest earthquake since that day in '89. Thankfully, though, it was only a 6.0 on the Richter scale (compared to Loma Prieta's 6.9), thankfully it happened in the middle of the night (when few are out on the streets), thankfully the quake's effects were not felt in nearly so wide an area (the worst damage in 1989 -- in San Francisco and Oakland -- was fully eighty miles from the epicenter), and most thankfully it happened in a largely agricultural area without dense urban populations. All of these things combined for a very low casualty rate for such a large quake. Even so, at least one death has been reported, and others were injured by falling debris and fires (gas line ruptures are common in earthquakes). Any quake of 6.0 or greater is powerful enough to cause major damage, especially if it goes on for more than a few seconds. On a personal note, I live far from Napa and didn't even feel this weekend's quake (granted, I was asleep at the time).
A lot happened in the world of politics this week. People are still dumping buckets of ice water over their heads, for instance. There are actually multiple scandals happening to various governors right now, but since none of them involve sex, the media is mostly ignoring them (with the exception of Rick Perry, perhaps, since the media has been swooning over him ever since he put on a pair of glasses). But we're going to ignore most of it all this week, to focus instead on the aftermath and ramifications of what has been happening in Ferguson, Missouri for the past few weeks.
Do marijuana legalization ballot initiatives help Democrats at the ballot box? Will Democrats even manage to hold onto the Senate because of pro-marijuana voters up north? These are interesting questions, but I have to say that I'm slightly skeptical that any hard-and-fast answers to such questions will be provided this year. We may not know for certain until after the 2016 election is analyzed, in fact. Which means anyone looking for Democrats to change their behavior might have a long wait in front of them, because if the data's not in until after 2016, then things can't be expected to politically shift in a big way until the 2018 elections -- two full election cycles from now.
Many are focusing on another aspect of what McConnell is promising to do, which is understandable because shutting down the government has a lot bigger impact on the country than details of how the Senate conducts its business. But, in this case, I'm choosing instead to ignore the forest (as it were) to concentrate on one particular tree.
In the spirit (perhaps) of Bill Maher, I'd like to propose a "new rule" for politics: Anyone who tells you what "the next election will be all about," over a year before such election takes place, will be wrong.
The indictment of Governor Rick Perry of Texas and his subsequent court case are about to complicate things politically for John Boehner. No matter the actual outcome of Perry's case, the arguments made by Perry and his supporters are going to provide an easy equivalence with Boehner's plans to sue President Obama -- an equivalence which would not have existed had Perry not been indicted.